Who were some of your earliest musical influences?
My first real exposure to music was 70s stuff. The Stones were huge then. Elton John. The progressive thing was also big, so my early influences on piano, what I started on, were acts like ELP, Herbie Hancock, and then Pink Floyd, Rush... More guitar oriented bands. When I heard Jeff Beck I decided "that's what I want to do".

Who are some of your more recent musical influences?
The most obvious influence in my playing, I think, is Steve Morse. He's the measuring stick for song writing and technique. I'm still working on both (laughs). I also really like the way Steve Lukather plays. Vai is great. I guess I really like anyone named Steve (laughs). Jeff Beck always still inspires me. His attention to feel and creating a mood with note choices and bends knocks me on my butt every time.

What are you listening to these days?
It's in constant rotation. For just hanging out I still love the Stones. I love Luke (Steve Lukather). Also, anything from Rush gets played pretty often. For current mainstream stuff I really dig the Foo Fighters. Tight band. Then there's all my pals. Dave Martone has put out some amazing stuff on his latest couple records. Really fresh! Doug Johns is an amazing solo bassist and Bryan Beller has written some beautiful stuff for his album "Thanks in Advance". Guthrie (Govan) made the greatest guitar album in years, "Erotic Cakes". I can always listen to that record!

What kind of effects do you use?
I use a Digitech GSP1101. All Lexicon reverbs and delays. If I have to travel light, I've been using an IPB-10 or RP unit that have the same processor with a few less features but easy to carry on a plane. I've got a Shadow midi converter and Kurzweil brain for adding keyboard pads. Generally I don't use a whole lot of stuff on my main sound except for some stereo delay. I bring a little delay in for the leads that sustain and sing - to smooth them out. I have an _expression pedal to fade in the amount I want, ala Steve Morse's set up. I think he came up with the best way to use effects live. It keeps everything flowing, rather than clicking effects on and off for wet sound and dry sound.

What's your current main guitar?
Ernie Ball MusicMan. I use the John Petrucci BFR model mostly. I'm playing the one with the custom tremolo that has a piezo pickup wired inside it. With that I can play all the steel string parts from the albums at live shows. I have the piezo pickup running through a volume pedal, to a reverb, then directly to the PA. I also use the 25th Anniversary MusicMan for less distorted sounds. Things with a bit of the gain rolled off for more expression. My 20th Anniversary Silhouette is also really nice for tasty playing. The Musicman "Gamechanger" is amazing. I used it for much of the new album's rhythm guitar parts as it's got virtually unlimited tonal possibilities.
from a single instrument.

What about acoustic?
On the last few records I've used the Piezo in my MusicMan guitars for acoustic textures. I still use a Carvin acoustic and a Chet Atkins nylon string for some occasional duet shows with Jennifer. For the most part it's all MusicMan though. It's much easier to control live and I'm able to blend with the magnetic pickups to get a really big sound from a single instrument.

What's your amp setup like these days?
I'm using all DV Mark amps for the electric. I have two Little 40 heads running my full stereo rig and a G1000 power amp for small fly gigs and things. The stuff is incredibly light and flexible for any situation and they have huge tone possibilities. I run into two DV Mark 212 or 412 cabs depending on the gig. All my effects are coming from the GSP1101 with a Control 2 pedal board on the floor. To amplify the midi guitar and piezo pickup I use Electro-voice ELX115P powered monitors. EV monitors and PA cabs have a really flat response that doesn't color the sound like most stuff. All the different sends are brought in and out with Ernie Ball volume pedals so I can blend electric, acoustic and synth sounds.

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